The picturesque Northern Thai village of Mae Kampong is located only 50 kilometers from Chiang Mai city. Nestled on a hillside, 1300 meters above sea level and surrounded by pristine forest, Mae Kampong has a cool and pleasant climate.
A small stream meanders through the village. Water flowing gently past the typical wooden houses creates an enchanting atmosphere, in particular during the quiet of evening.
The highlights of Mae Kampong Community
“Experience warm Northern Thai hospitality in a home stay; trek through pristine forest and help your hosts to pick tea; learn about local crafts; marvel at the hydro-energy project.”
Why is Mae Kampong community special?
Cultivating tea is a traditional occupation for Northern Thai, highland people. Mae Kampong village is surrounded by tea plantations which successive generations have woven into the verdant natural landscape. Tea trees grow alongside Arabica coffee, herbal medicines and the stunning natural forest.
Today, tea and coffee cultivation are the main occupations for Mae Kampong. Much of the tea is used to produce ‘miang’, a snack which local people chew after dinner, or if they feel tired.
To produce miang, community members rely on traditional methods of planting, harvesting and fermenting tea. Only the tips of the tea leaves are picked. This allows sufficient sunlight to reach the old leaves, and enables the community to harvest tea all year round. Guests can learn about the subtle differences in the properties of tea from month to month!
Lush forest, including a well preserved watershed, has guaranteed an abundance of streams, which enable Mae Kampong to produce hydro electricity. This clean energy project is managed by a village cooperative, which is even able to sell electricity to the national power grid, making Mae Kampong a model community for ‘sustainable energy.’
Don’t miss this…
Activities for guests:
- Trekking along the nature trail: Guests can accompany local community guides through the forest, passing tea, coffee and herbal gardens. Enjoy strolling through pristine forest and learning how the community manage natural resources and harness hydropower.
- Camping at Doi Mon Larn: This mountain is the highest point of Mae Kampong, and can be reached by a moderate trek of 3-5 hours. Guests who reach the summit will see a beautiful view of the village. There is an area to set up camp. Guides can prepare delicious jungle food, steamed in bamboo over a camp-fire.
- Traditional Northern Thai dance and musical performance: Traditional dances are performed by local youth, including “Sao Mai” Dance (drawing silk thread), Fingernail Dance, Sword Dance, Umbrella Dance, and “Thep Ban Theong” (the joyful Diva Dance). Guests can also enjoy the soothing melodies of “Salaw, Saw, Sueng,” traditional, northern, string instruments.
- Offer alms to the Buddhist monks: Join in an ancient tradition and accrue merit for this life and the next, by offering alms to Mae Kampong’s saffron-robed monks.
Green Corner: People and Planet
More than 30 households are actively involved in CBT in Mae Kampong. Villagers contribute towards the local cooperative, which generates income for all community members as well as funding a range of social and environmental activities. These include tree planting; building a buffer line to deter forest fires; and assisting surveillance to prevent illegal logging and the smuggling of wild orchids from the forest.
The CBT group are aware of the pressures which tourism can put on a small community. Group members meet regularly to discuss tourism management and community preparation in terms of staff, natural resources and fair distribution of profits. Local guides explain Mae Kampong’s cultural and environmental guidelines to guests. Community members also help manage their own garbage at the household level.